NBC's first primetime boxing event in 30 years was anything but a rip-roaring success. Al Haymon's new Premier Boxing Champions series aimed to bring quality fights with universally recognized top 10 talent to over-the-air and cable television, and while the fights booked for tonight and for future shows certainly show he's not bluffing, he isn't in control as to how the fights actually play out. Here are the results from the two main NBC bouts along with highlights courtesy of Zombie Prophet.
Adrian Broner (30-1, 22 KOs) def. John Molina Jr. (27-6, 22 KOs) by unanimous decision (120-108, 120-108, 118-110)
The expectation coming into this junior welterweight (140 lbs) showdown was that Molina would use aggressive tactics and engage the sharp-punching Broner in a war. Unfortunately, Molina spent far too much time in a passive state, and his offense consisted of ugly right hands and bullrushing with his head straight at Broner's chest. Meanwhile, Broner put on a boxing clinic without ever seriously hurting his opponent. He jabbed Molina at will, frequently doubling up with the head and then body, and landed a few good power shots per round. The MGM Grand crowd booed heavily throughout the fight as Molina basically was out of ideas from the start and Broner was content to win on points. Broner ended the fight by celebrating and running with 5 seconds left in the 12th. At least he didn't try and literally dry hump Molina like he did vs. Marcos Maidana (who is the only man to beat him). A consummate performance by Broner but a little disappointing he didn't turn on the aggression. Molina barely turned on his aggression and the fight suffered greatly because of it.
Keith Thurman (25-0, 21 KOs) def. Robert Guerrero (31-3-1, 18 KOs) by unanimous decision (120-107, 118-109, 118-108)
If the co-main event (or "first of two main events" as Al Michaels and others on the broadcast parroted) was the anti-thriller, the main event between rising welterweight (147 lbs) star Keith Thurman and Robert Guerrero was a desperately sought crowd-pleaser. Thurman and Guerrero wasted no time engaging from the opening bell, with the favored Thurman relying heavily on his powerful fight hand while Guerrero tried to catch Thurman with perfectly timed counterpunches. Both men had their moments in the first 6 rounds but Thurman was the more active fighter and was landing the harder shots. Thurman did have a hematoma growing on the left side of his face from the 3rd round onwards and I still don't know if it was a headbutt or a punch that caused it. With Thurman steadily taking over on the scorecards, "One Time" delivered the only knockdown of the fight in the 9th round with two hard right hands that sent Guerrero to his back. Robert got up at the count of 9 and proceeded to take a sustained beating in the final 30 seconds. He probably would've been stopped if Thurman had more time. Bravely, Guerrero did well to fight back in the final 3 rounds and had a genuine sense of urgency. He pushed Thurman up against the ropes on multiple occasions and tried scoring with some tight boxing in the clinch. Thurman was getting tagged but he didn't seem particularly fazed. The crowd cheered both men at the final bell after an entertaining bout, particularly the final 6 rounds which produced the best action of the whole broadcast. Adelaide Byrd turned in the 120-107 scorecard because she's Adelaide Byrd and that's the type of thing she does. Thurman is now the WBA welterweight champion and while he no doubt impressed with the biggest win of his carer, Guerrero has surely earned himself a regular spot on free TV shows with his style of fighting and unquestioned heart and chin.
All in all, a mixed night of quality for PBC on NBC. The production value was good but the on-air talent was underwhelming. Marv Albert sounded out of his depth calling his first boxing match in 30 years, and Sugar Ray Leonard could barely complete an actual sentence. The ring announcer also called for a round of applause from the crowd before the Broner/Molina decision was revealed ... the crowd booed instead. It's early days but let's just say this wasn't the best start either Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions or NBC executive were hoping for.
The next PBC card airs live on Spike TV next Friday with a main event of Andre Berto versus Josesito Lopez and a co-main of Shawn Porter versus Roberto Garcia.
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